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September 14, 2022 1:52 pm

New ADL Report Reveals Widespread Antisemitism in Florida

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Neo-Nazi rally, c. 2002. Photo: Public Domain.

Antisemitism in Florida, a state home to the United States’ third-largest Jewish community, has reached concerning levels, a new report by the Anti-Defamation League says.

ADL’s Center on Extremism (COE) released a report Tuesday which found that antisemitic hate crimes in Florida have increased 300% since 2012 and that since 2020, 80% of all hate crimes based on religion have targeted Jews.

Conspiracy mongering and vast networks of white nationalist extremist groups are driving the trend, the ADL found.

“The past two years have seen a significant increase in extremist incidents both nationwide and in the state of Florida. These incidents have been driven, in part, by widespread disinformation and conspiracy theories which have animated extremists and fueled antisemitism,” the report said. “The result: unrest and violence, from the January 6 insurrection to white supremacist activity to a spike in hate crimes.”

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The report also identified new white supremacist groups, including “White Lives Matter” and “NatSoc Florida” and revealed strategies that already established groups like Oath Keepers and Proud Boys are using to propagate their message. Some of these groups, the report continued, are “disrupting school board meetings and even running for political office.”

Others, like the Black Hebrew Israelites, the Nation of Islam, and the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, also have chapters in Florida. Differences in ideology distinguish them, but all promote conspiracy theories and antisemitism. The Black Hebrew Israelites and Nation of Islam, for example, regularly describe Jews as the “Synagogue of Satan.”

The report also detailed several antisemitic incidents, including the detonation of fireworks in Chabad center’s mailbox, swastika graffiti used in the vandalism of a business, and the heckling of a Jewish family while they walked home from synagogue.

“Free Palestine” and “F*** the Jews,” the hecklers said.

ADL’s Center of Extremism recommended a “whole-of-society approach” to fighting the forces of hate and extremism in which community and elected leaders, legislation, election integrity, education, and law enforcement combine to eradicate them.

“Elected officials and community leaders must all strongly and consistently condemn antisemitism and extremism, whenever and wherever it occurs,” the report recommended. “Denouncing bigotry from an opponent is simple; doing so when it comes from an ally requires courage — and now more than ever, we need courageous leaders.”

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